Newly-discovered lymphatic vessels, shown in red, were almost invisible behind larger blood vessels, shown in green (University of Virginia)
“They’ll have to change the textbooks.”
Scientists don’t hear this very often (if ever), but that’s the remark that came in response to a new discovery that the brain is connected to the immune system by vessels that no one knew existed.
The connection could change how neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis are understood and treated.
(© South Tyrol Museum
Ötzi the Iceman died between 3500 – 3100 BC in the Tyrol region of the Italian Alps. Ice quickly covered him and preserved his body until German hikers discovered it in 1991. Ötzi was found with his clothing, tools, and weapons – a snapshot of Copper Age life and a rare gift to archaeologists.
He was also found with almost 50 tattoos.
Archaeologists had never seen tattoos from the Copper Age before. Body tattoos were known to exist in ancient times, but the only evidence of that work is contained on figurines and wall carvings, which might or might not be accurate. Ötzi’s skin was a direct record from the past, although the information it contained was unpretentious: simple lines and crosses on his ankles, wrists, knees, lower back and Achilles tendon. These wouldn’t be the designs or sites to pick if his purpose was only body decoration. Many scientists now believe, however, that his markings weren’t art at all, but systematic healing therapies.
“Fecal Transplants.” Definitely an attention-grabbing headline, and one that’s been in the news a lot lately. This medical treatment is saving lives, though, and as icky as it sounds, there’s good science behind it. This approach to medicine treats the human microbiome – the extensive microbe community inside each of us.
New science is showing that each of us is really more of a walking ecosystem than the individual we think we are. Understanding this system, learning what it does, and how to use it for health care is a hot field of medical research. The effects of this work are changing medicine and changing the way we think about ourselves as living organisms.